This is a most handsome example of what is considered by many knowledgeable enthusiasts to be the finest British sporting car of the Vintage period. Vauxhall 30-98 adherents will maintain that while Bentley generated greater publicity - thanks largely to their victories at Le Mans - the Vauxhall company (which raced at both Grand Prix and Tourist Trophy level before The Great War) had produced a car which could run rings around 3-Litre Bentleys on cross-¬country journeys.
The 'big engine/lightweight car' formula has been repeated to good effect many times throughout the histo¬ry of the sporting motor car, and Vauxhall's famous 30-98 was one of its earliest successful applications. As has so often been the case, the spur behind this particular combination was the desire for competition suc¬cess; the first 30-98 being constructed in 1913 at the behest of car dealer and motor sport competi¬tor, Joseph Higginson. Higginson's first objective was victory in the Shelsley Walsh hill-climb in June of that year, and the Laurence Pomeroy-designed 30-98 duly obliged, setting a hill record in the process which was to stand for 15 years.
Laurence Pomeroy's tenure as Vauxhall's Chief Engineer saw the Luton-based concern produce some of the truly outstanding designs of the Edwardian period, commencing with the 20hp Prince Henry in 1910. A larger version of the Prince Henry's four-cylinder side-valve engine was developed for its successor, the D-Type, which, with some 70bhp on tap, was good for 70mph-plus when not overburdened by formal coachwork. Pomeroy's 30-98 was powered by a 4.5-litre, four-cylinder, side-valve engine - in effect a stretched version of the Prince Henry/D-Type's - mounted in a conventional but light¬weight chassis; suspension being by beam axle at the front and live axle at the rear, with semi-elliptic springs all round. Power was transmitted via a multi-plate clutch to a robust four-speed gearbox, and thence via a short prop-shaft to the straight-cut bevel rear axle. The braking sys¬tem consisted of a foot-operated transmission brake and a hand¬brake operating on the two rear drums, the front wheels being un-braked.
At first glance this unremark¬able specification seems an unlikely one for a performance car - even an Edwardian exam¬ple - but the 30-98's 90bhp-plus power output, combined with a weight of only 24cwt (with the factory-built, four-seater 'Velox' tourer coachwork) gave it a formidable power-to-weight ratio for the time. A fully road-equipped 30-98 was capable of around 85mph, and when stripped for racing the company guaranteed a top-speed in excess of 100mph for the later overhead-valve models, a capability demonstrat¬ed at Brooklands on numerous occasions.
Only a handful of cars were sold before the outbreak of WWI interrupted production, and when manufacture resumed in 1919, the model was given the designation 'E-Type' - its Prince Henry predecessor having been the 'C' and the 25hp Tourer the 'D'. Manufacture of the E-type ceased in September 1922, there then being a slight hiatus in production before its successor, the overhead-valve 'OE', com¬menced delivery to customers in early 1923. Despite a reduction in capacity to 4.2 litres, the power of the ohv motor went up to 110bhp-plus, although this increase made little difference to the car's performance. Published figures for the number of E-Types produced vary slightly but according to the Vauxhall 30-98 Register 275 were made, of which only 36 are known to survive.
The example offered here was built up by marque specialist Alistair Templeton between 1987 and 1992. The original chassis - 'E303' - needed extensive repair, which was entrusted to Julian Ghosh (Green Farm Racing) who spliced in new side rails forward of the steering box mounting point and restored the frame. Eric Peppercorn, the recognised authority on Vauxhall bodies, constructed a new body complete with correct long wings and running boards, which was skinned in aluminium. The engine received a new 4.75-litre cylinder block, manufactured by specialist Mike Lemon, and was rebuilt by Alistair Templeton using the original crankcase. Noteworthy features include alternator electrics, CAV lighting, a Watford tachometer, flashing indicators (within the sidelights) and a Delage D8 front axle: the latter being a popular modification that affords decent-sized brakes.
Sold by Templeton to Brian Moore in 1993, the 30-98 passed to the current owner in 2000 and has been rallied extensively and well cared for since acquisition. Currently taxed and MoT'd, it is described as in generally excellent condition with very good paintwork and interior, the latter presenting really well, and comes with Swansea V5 registration document. A carburettor rebuild and engine tune have been carried out by marque specialist Jeremy Brewster, the car is now on the button and performs very well.
Finished in Royal Blue with deep-buttoned grey leather upholstery, 'AD 8735' represents a wonderful opportunity to acquire a most handsome example of what is considered by many knowledgeable enthusiasts to be the finest British sporting car of the Vintage period.
This vehicle is MoT exempt and does not come with a current MoT.